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Reproduced courtesy of Minyipa Mununggurr

Balamumu Gapu

Date: 1998
Overall: 1600 × 800 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Minyipa Mununggurr
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033771

User Terms

    This bark painting shows the Saltwater Country that is shared by the Dhuwa clans in the country of Balamumu. The clan's totems of the Dhalwatpu (turtle), Milika (moonfish), Yalurr (sea snake) and Yathiny (sea anemone) are portrayed. At the top of the painting the foundation rock Nitjurra is shown in a dual form.
    SignificanceThis bark is representative of the people belonging to the Dhuwa moiety of the Djapu clan in the homeland of Wandawuy. The traditional owners of East Arnhem Land produced a number of bark paintings to express their sacred stories, sites and laws. This effort was known as the Saltwater Project resulted in the production of 80 bark paintings.

    HistoryThe Yol?u people of Arnhem Land inhabit a landscape that was formed by the actions of ancestral beings, who can take both human and animal form. For instance water now flows where these creatures walked and hills have formed where they died. Ancestral time is not just in the past but also the present and future. In light of this the sacred landscape and stories of East Arnhem Land are central to the Yol?u people’s way of life and prominent themes in their bark paintings.

    The Saltwater Project began in 1996 after an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal site in East Arnhem Land. This sacred area is home to the ancestral crocodile Bäru and found among the litter of the illegal camp was the severed head of a crocodile. This discovery prompted the local Yol?u people to produce a series of bark paintings that expressed the rules, philosophies and stories of their region. The project culminated in the production of 80 barks and stressed the importance of Yol?u land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape.

    The Yol?u have been involved in the land rights struggle since the 1960s. They currently are recognised as the traditional owners of northeast Arnhem Land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. This act was passed in the Northern Territory in 1976 and is seen as the benchmark for the recognition of Aboriginal land ownership in Australia. Despite this the issues of Indigenous land ownership, rights, customs and law continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Balamumu Gapu

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

    Primary title: Balamumu Gapu

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